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The largest shareholder in Formula One motor racing is among a pack of suitors circling a sports rights firm headed by the nephew of Sepp Blatter, the controversial head of football s world governing body.

Sky News has learned that CVC Capital Partners is among a group of potential buyers of Swiss-based Infront Sports & Media, whose clients include FIFA and dozens of other owners of lucrative sports franchises around the world.

Infront is headed by Philippe Blatter, and has been majority-owned by Bridgepoint, a London-based private equity firm, since 2011.

Sources said that Lazard, the investment bank, had asked bidders to submit initial offers during the course of last week, with CVC and CAA, the talent management company which also has a presence in the sports arena, among those interested.

A number of other buyout firms including Blackstone and Bain Capital are understood to have decided not to bid.

It was unclear on Monday whether IMG, which is backed by US-based investment firm SilverLake Partners, made an offer.

CVC, which owns more than 30% of F1 s parent company, was one of the bidders for IMG last year.

Among Infront s most important contracts is the right to sell World Cup television rights in a number of Asian countries for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, the latter of which has been riddled with controversy because of FIFA s decision to award the tournament to the Gulf state of Qatar.

Among Infront s strategic initiatives since Bridgepoint s takeover was a joint venture to launch in Qatar struck towards the end of last year.

Infront is also the media adviser to Serie A, Italian football s top division, the French team entry to the America s Cup and the majority of the Winter Olympics sports federations.

In a letter to clients quoted by Reuters last month, Mr Blatter said:

Bridgepoint and the Infront Management... commenced a process to review different options for the company to find the appropriate support for its next phase of growth.

Encouragingly, a substantial number of organisations have already actively expressed their interest in supporting the company, which makes us consider the overall current market situation as favourable for this review.

Sources said that Bridgepoint and its advisers were looking for offers of around £850m, or roughly double what it paid to acquire Infront three years ago.

Since then, the value of many sports media rights has continued to rise significantly, although the Infront chief executive and his uncle, who has run FIFA since 1998, have faced criticism over Infront s work on FIFA properties.

Bridgepoint and CVC declined to comment.


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